Kale helps with cholesterol in a few different ways. Like spinach, kale is high in lutein, and it also provides a good amount of fiber. Lutein has been shown to help lower levels of LDL cholesterol and stops cholesterol from building up in the body (4). Kale already provides so many healthy benefits, and its lutein content is just one more reason to start drinking green smoothies and getting more of it into your system.
Kale has received superstar status in the last few years, as the health benefits it provides hit mainstream consciousness. With a full day’s supply of Vitamin A and Vitamin C in a one cup serving of chopped kale, it’s clear to see what all the excitement is over.
There’s also plant protein and important minerals to help round out its nutritional profile.
Oatmeal gets the seal of approval from the American Heart Association for its cholesterol-lowering properties. The fiber in oatmeal has been described as acting like a sponge, helping to soak up excess cholesterol and carry it out of the body before it can do damage to arteries (1).
Choosing organic oats will help you reduce the amount of GMOs and chemicals you’re ingesting when you eat your oatmeal. Opt for plain instead of flavored oatmeal so you know you’re getting just the oats and no added sugars or artificial flavors and colors. This means avoiding some of the bigger brand names and going with some of the smaller sized companies that have a passion for providing organic, pure products.
Apples have long been recommended as a food you should eat each day, and the more studies that are performed on apples, the more this old advice seems to ring true. Apples have polyphenols and fiber in them, as well as vitamins and minerals that support the body in a number of ways. The polyphenols work as an antioxidant in the body, and the special fiber apples contain help to clear out cholesterol from the body.
Choosing organic apples is the only way to go if you’re going to up your apple intake. Conventional apples will have polyphenols and pectin, but this will be overshadowed by the large amount of chemicals applied to the fruit during the growing season, and the use of genetically modified seeds at the start.
Garlic has long been known as a cholesterol-lowering food, and it’s as simple as adding more garlic to your cooking. The allicin in garlic is what does the trick, and there’s some debate over which form of garlic contains the most allicin, fresh raw garlic, cooked garlic, garlic powder, or a garlic supplement. This is one food that likely won’t lower your cholesterol much all by itself, but can be effective when paired with other foods on this list on a cholesterol conscious diet.
If bumping up your garlic intake doesn’t sound appealing to you, either because of the taste or the bad breath it’s known to cause, you may be interested in taking a garlic supplement for similar benefits.
5. Dark Chocolate
Eating dark chocolate can help you reduce your cholesterol, as long as a few conditions are met. You can’t overdo it, as eating more dark chocolate will not help you lower your cholesterol even more. You want to take it in moderation and eat reasonable servings in one sitting. Procyanidins in dark chocolate have been shown to help reduce cholesterol when levels are high (2).
You also want to opt for the purest dark chocolate you can find. The higher the percentage, the more actual chocolate it will contain, and the more procyanidins you’ll get. Avoid milk chocolate, as it doesn’t have the antioxidants found in dark chocolate, and has added dairy and sugar.
Spinach is one of those healthy foods that just makes everything in the body better, including your cholesterol levels. Start eating more spinach, and all else being equal, you’ll start to see your cholesterol numbers drop. It’s the lutein in spinach that gives it its cholesterol-lowering effect.
Other foods high in lutein include kale, swiss chard, and turnip greens. These leafy greens are also known for their high vitamin and mineral content, making them great choices for a healthy diet, and to aid in weight loss if necessary. If you’re worried about your cholesterol it’s doubly important to keep fit and lose extra weight to reduce the chance of a heart attack and other diseases linked to being overweight.
Avocados are thankfully making a big comeback after being vilified during the low-fat diet boom. The oleic acid they contain has a direct effect on cholesterol levels, and much of the fat in an avocado is made up of oleic acid. This is what helps raise levels of HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol, while lowering total cholesterol numbers.
It’s easy to start eating more avocados, as they can serve as an edible garnish to just about any meal. They also contain fiber, an important factor in keeping the digestive clean, and also helpful in regulating cholesterol levels. There’s also more potassium in an avocado than in a banana, so you’re getting an important mineral that will help you thrive.
8. Green Tea
You’ve probably heard that green tea is good for you, as it’s consistently lauded for its antioxidant content and anti-cancer benefits. But it’s also good for your cholesterol levels. It’s the flavonoids in green tea that are responsible for most of the good properties it displays, and a specific flavonoid known as catechins is what helps with cholesterol (3).
The EGCG in green tea has also been shown to help with weight loss, and there are other heart healthy factors in green tea that make it a sensible beverage if you’re concerned about heart attacks and high cholesterol. To make sure that you’re getting enough green tea each day, switch it up with the seasons and drink iced green tea during the warmer months, and hot green tea during the colder months.
You simply can’t go wrong by adding more blueberries to your diet. They are rich in antioxidants, pack some serious fiber, and have a special compound in them called pterostilbene which has been shown to help the body metabolize cholesterol, lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) as well as triglycerides.
Buying organic blueberries means you’ll be getting the benefits of all of their antioxidants without introducing pesticides, herbicides, and GMOs into your body. To use more blueberries in your cooking, be on the lookout for recipes that contain them, or specifically seek out recipes that feature blueberries as a prominent ingredient. Just be sure to find recipes that include other cholesterol lowering foods.
Tomatoes receive all of their health headlines thanks to the lycopene they contain. The lycopene they contain is believed to be why tomatoes are consistently linked with heart health. Lowering LDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides is why tomatoes end up on many heart-healthy diet programs.
Cooking your tomatoes helps to unlock even more lycopene, but that shouldn’t stop you from eating fresh tomatoes as well. Tomato sauces, chilis, soups, salads, and smoothies are all great items to consider adding tomatoes to. Going with organically grown tomatoes is highly recommended. Cherry tomatoes made the Dirty Dozen list of foods by the Environmental Working Group for their high levels of toxins.
11. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds make an easy addition to your daily food intake, and they’ll help you get more fiber as well as omega-3s, helping to bring down your cholesterol. Flaxseeds will help you feel satisfied during and after your meal, and they provide additional health benefits in the form of stress reduction, a healthier liver, and more.
Use ground flax seeds in any number of recipes, as they basically disappear into soups and stews, and add a nutty flavor to other meals. You can sprinkle them on salads, or use them to beef up the nutritional content of a smoothie.
Beans are one of the best cholesterol lowering foods there are, thanks to the fiber they contain. They are a staple food for diabetics to help keep blood sugar levels stable, but they can also be used by those looking to lower their cholesterol in an attempt to avoid a heart attack. They also help to lower blood pressure, helping your heart in at least two different ways.
Beans will also help you feel full long after your meal because of the combination of protein and fiber. They make a great side dish to a meal and can help balance out a meaty main dish. The carbohydrates they contain are broken down slowly by the body and they rank low on the Glycemic Index.
Salmon helps your body in a number of ways thanks to the impressive amounts of omega-3s, protein, and healthy fat it has. Many health experts recommend eating salmon multiple times per week, or supplementing with fish oil to get omega-3 levels up. In addition to omega-3s helping to lower cholesterol, they’re also helpful in proper brain function, and have been associated with providing plenty of healthy heart benefits.
Choose wild caught salmon over farm raised. You’ll get the same amount of omega-3 per serving, but you’ll be avoiding the toxic chemicals put into farmed fish food pellets. Salmon may be one of the pricier fish you can buy, but it’s worth it when you consider the good it can do your body, and the diseases it can help prevent.